Hampi-Badami-Aihole: The place of eternal glory Part 1

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If somehow old ruins had a way to tell their stories Hampi ruins would have been singing like canary showing the might and eventually plight of the Vijay Nagar empire. One of the mightiest and richest empire to rule India ever. A four-day long weekend posed as the correct time to cover the UNESCO accredited heritage sites of Hampi-Badami-Banashankari-mahakuta-patadakal-aihole from bangalore.

The Planning

There are two ways you can plan this trip, one with Badami and one without it because Hampi is a place that will take up at least 2 days to even glimpse through all the majestic stone buildings. We choose the one with Hampi as our base. We started the trip early morning and covered the stretch of around 350 KM in 7 hours with one break for breakfast at Kamat. The food was decent but not that great, recently I have noticed a drop in their food quality so you can try out different places in between. I had opted to stay in Bellary Hyatt (the name of this hotel is misleading if you are searching on travel portal as they list as Hyatt Hampi). This hotel is around 40 KM from the main town of Hampi and is located in the JSW Jindal township@vijaynagar. But the location itself is very good and has a beautiful art village KALADHAMA situated next door. My baby was too ecstatic to see trains plying through the town carrying items directly inside the township running parallel to our TUV.

We preferred it as we could not find any good hotel in Hampi itself. If you are backpacker then you do have lots of guest houses situated next to virupaksha temple. Check with www.tripadvisor.in for the list of such places. We reached the hotel around 1 PM and after freshening up had a good chat with Hotel helpdesk to fine tune our sightseeing plan. The hotel suggested not to try Hampi today as it was already late and although you can explore the ruins but to really see the place daylight is a necessity. He suggested exploring the nearby town of Sandur and kaladhama.

We thought of covering sandur first as that is around 20 minutes drive from the hotel. The place is a mining belt and you can find trucks running across the length and breadth of the place so drive carefully. As we sped towards Sandur we were not sure what to expect but as soon as we hit the naari halli river site we were awed by the beauty of the place. Assume seeing two small hillocks guarding the river flowing through it. It was a beautiful place to be but as there is no proper planning you just can't go near the place. We found one opening alongside the road itself and had to do some hopping to reach the gorge area. As it was summer so the water level was very low but one can very well imagine how gorgeous it will be during the rainy season. I believe these of encounters while travelling explains the joys of the process.


Sandur Awesome Gorge

Having spent quite a good amount of time posing in different landscapes we set our ride back to Kaladham. The place when you enter will remind you of cultural hub of any university with a well-maintained lawn, amphitheatres, pond etc. These are open whole day for artist and public both. The special item for which its known though opens between 5-8:30 pm only. this place boasts of a panoramic museum of sorts that allows viewers to explore a virtual landscape of panoramic locations enlivened by animated mythological events that reveal the folkloric imagination of Hampi temple complex. Its one of a kind experience and rare to India although across world Virtual Reality replica of actual monuments is happening for quite some time.

If you will search for more known places nearby you might find Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary but we dropped the plan to go there because of a. It charges exorbitant 500 Rs just for parking and b) during the hot weather you hardly get to see any bear at all from the watching station.


Day 2 was marked completely for Hampi but because of exhaustion the day before we could start only at 10 am the penalty for which we all were to pay soon. It was a nice comfortable drive to Hampi from hotel and soon we hit the first stoppage. My friend found an offbeat track to a water body and the driver in him made us take that detour which turned out to be a good pit stop. Till this turn it was looking like a normal countryside with trees all around but as soon as we took our next turn we knew we have arrived. The topography of the place around us changed so rapidly from green trees to stone filled hills and temple ruins all along the way on both the side. It is a remarkable site similar to seeing Taj Mahal for the first time amidst the red stone boundary that protects its view from outside world. The contrast is uncanny and adds to the beauty of the place. As we were not following any fixed itinerary to view the temples we just started exploring the places as they kept on coming. By this time we have left the main road behind and we travelling through uncharted territory, thanks to the Mahindra TUV we were driving in.

We visited common Bath, Saraswati temple, some dead end of rocky path till we hit the back side of Lotus mahal as it is known. This was the only place in the vicinity that had restricted access and one needs to buy a ticket of 30 Rs each to enter the premise on foot only. The good thing about taking the unpaved road was that we got to park our cars next to the ticket counter itself. If you are coming via the main road then there is a designated parking space nearby with no parking fees. This ticket is valid for another favourite destination of Hampi known as vitthala vijaya temple.
The place as soon as you enter gives you a feel of being in the land of kings and queens with all its sculpted buildings and beautiful lawn. It houses base of Queens Palace, the Lotus Mahal (Known because of the layered architecture of the building that used to provide natural AC to the people inside, royalty ladies mostly I suppose. the whole area is cordoned off by fort walls from all side which although old still hold their place, thanks to ASI team for maintaining this place. Once yo go deep you enter another premise that was earlier used to keep Elephants. Once you see the effort that has been put in the construction of these buildings you can very well imagine the importance of this peaceful but strong animal in old time armies. Another notable item is Ranga mahal that is also situated behind the elephant house.

As I said every corner there is something of significance here and you really need to be patient and strong to explore it completely. Our energy was going away at the end of this trip especially because it was pretty hot now (remember I told you about the perils of starting late from the hotel, this is one of it). We decided to move toward the main shiva temple of area Virupaksha temple because trip advisor reviews suggested all decent eateries in this region only. And honestly, till now we had only seen few ice cream kart and locally made butter milk in this area. So hungry and tired we started towards virupaksha temple. Our excitement was triggered when we saw that the road to the temple passes through stone walls and multiple points of interest along the way. End result we kept on taking pictures and videos along the way till we reached the place.

A word of advice here as soon as you will enter this area there will be parking guys who will ask you to park to the left, Please don't do it as there is still a lot to explore once you pass this checkpoint. So take the tickets but continue going straight till you see virupaksha temple on your left then turn right and park. I will tell you why as soon as you turn right you will feel as if you have entered the kings' court straight out of a movie set of that area. the right turn ends in Matunga hill with a huge Nandi bull statue.

If you climb to the top of the place you can see another white temple on top of a Hill across the river. That is Anjaneya temple marked as the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. We later came to know that the Hampi region is divided into multiple zones the one we first saw was called as Royal Centre and used to house royal families and nobles and the one near Virupaksha was called Sacred centre. The sacred centre was also kept in two corners one with Lord Shiva as the main deity and other as Lord Vishnu. You can actually climb the hill and it is an awesome place to enjoy the sunset view. The way from temple to this hill is adorned by long corridors which used to be Hampi Bazaar during those days. From

So even though our legs were cursing us by this time we somehow gathered our energy to click pictures of the place and roam around a bit. We then parked and on foot marched towards the back side of virupaksha temple where all the guest houses and food options are available. Most famous being the Mangotree which was our first stop but seeing the huge line in front of the place we dumped the idea and moved to a small place called moonlight cafe which was looking empty. we ended up eating more that we thought we could, the food was simple but tasty. Don't try the fancy items like Hummus or Pasta but rather stick to basic rice and noodles and you will be safe.
Fully loaded we started our way back to the temple through the old lanes of hampi village, which even now are made of mud and polished with cow dung mixed with water which acts as deterrent for insects and flies. Old is still gold here. You should definitely buy some Hampi guide book if you are traveling without a guide in order to fully explore the place. There are only few options regarding books and we ended up buying the best one available at Rs 200.

The temple has an old water tank flowing alongside which was used earlier to store water and reminds us of swachha bharat mission in those days. The gopuram of this place is the only one that is not damaged in the aftermaths of the war. Maybe not even the Nizam's who defeated the vijaynagar empire and looted the place of all the wealth wanted to take wrath of Lord Shiva the destroyer. We still had vithhal temple to go but everyone was in no state of any further travel. Bidding adieu with heavy hearts and with promises to come back again we bade farewell to this wonderful town and headed back as logs to our hotel.

Day 3&4...Continued on Page 2 of the blog

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  1. Vividly described, I need to revisit the place to catch up with few places I missed

    1. Thanks, You can never get enough of Hampi. There is second part of the blog as well. Have a go.